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New Zealand Quake Toll Reaches 113 as Officials Fear Worst


Rubble is strewn across the street in the port town of Lyttelton on February 25, 2011, which was the epicenter of the 6.3 earthquake that devastated the city of Christchurch on February 22, 2011

Rubble is strewn across the street in the port town of Lyttelton on February 25, 2011, which was the epicenter of the 6.3 earthquake that devastated the city of Christchurch on February 22, 2011

The death toll from New Zealand's earthquake has risen to 113, as authorities said they feared that another 228 people listed as missing would not be found alive.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said Friday the rescue focus following Tuesday's 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch is nearing an end. He said he is preparing to give families from several countries "the worst type of news."

Seventy survivors of the quake were pulled from crumbled buildings in the first 25 hours after the temblor hit, but no one has been rescued since Wednesday. Hundreds of police, soldiers and others continued to comb the wreckage looking for anyone who might yet be trapped alive. But authorities said they believed there were no survivors buried in the rubble of Christchurch's landmark cathedral. They also hold out little hope of finding survivors at a collapsed five-story building that housed a television station and an English-language school.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said that rescuers and relatives of the missing had to prepare for the possibility that the death toll would "rise substantially" in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Prime Minister John Key said, "These are very, very dark days for New Zealand."

As authorities continued to pull bodies from the wreckage, New Zealand police said they were "sickened" by looting, email scams and fake appeals for charity in the quake's aftermath. One burglary occurred at the home of a woman feared dead in the quake, while two men were charged with stealing generators.

Rescue workers and survivors also began to relate their experiences.

One Australian doctor, Stuart Philip, described how he and other medical workers rescued a man trapped in the wreckage by using a pocket knife and hacksaw to amputate his legs that had been crushed by a heavy beam. He said the victim is now out of intensive care and recovering well.

A woman rescued from the collapse of one building, Emma Howard, went ahead with her planned wedding on Friday. While trapped, she texted her fiance, Chris Greenslade, who came to her rescue. He helped extricate other survivors from the building's wreckage and, after five hours, his bride-to-be.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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